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Podiatrist Vs. Chiropractor

Looking to get into a specialized area of medicine? Explore a comparison of podiatrists and chiropractors to see if either might be a good fit for you.

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Comparing Podiatrists to Chiropractors

Podiatrists and chiropractors are both specialized healthcare practitioners. Podiatrists exclusively treat conditions that occur in the feet and ankles, while chiropractors work to resolve issues related to the neuromusculoskeletal system. To learn more, explore the full range of similarities and differences between podiatrists and chiropractors.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Podiatrist Doctoral or professional degree $124,830 10%
Chiropractor Doctoral or professional degree $67,520 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Podiatrists vs. Chiropractors

Both podiatrists and chiropractors are healthcare professionals who treat various structural ailments that occur within the body. More specifically, podiatrists treat conditions related to the feet, ankles, and legs, whereas chiropractors examine and treat many parts of the body, with a special focus on the spine. After diagnosing a condition, chiropractors provide treatment through adjustments of the joints and spinal column, as well as through massage therapy. Podiatrists provide treatment through surgery, the prescription of orthotics, and through pain relieving medications. Podiatrists and chiropractors are both required to complete years of schooling to earn their respective degrees.

Podiatrist

When unexplained foot and ankle pain occurs, family doctors refer their patients to podiatrists. Podiatrists spend years studying the anatomy of and conditions related to the feet, ankles, and legs. They are required to earn a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree, finish a 3-year residency program, and become licensed in their state. The majority of podiatrists work full-time schedules, and they may work in hospitals, physicians offices or the offices of health practitioners; some are self-employed. To keep up-to-date on the latest medical findings, podiatrists attend podiatry conferences, perform research, and study the latest medical journals.

The following are some job duties of podiatrists:

  • Conduct physical exams and x-rays on a patient's feet to help diagnose the cause of foot pain
  • Teach patients various exercises and stretches to help heal various foot and ankle conditions
  • Perform surgery to fix or remove deformities in cases of serious foot or ankle ailments
  • Treat common foot conditions (such as ingrown toenails and arthritis) through appropriate treatment methods

Chiropractor

Whether you are suffering from a sore back, neck, knees, or hips, you can see a chiropractor, who will work to promote alignment of the entire body. Chiropractors' primary focus is neuromusculoskeletal therapy, since it is believed to be the source of various imbalances in the body. To become a chiropractor, one must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree, which usually takes four years to complete. After earning a D.C., chiropractors either work in a shared chiropractic office or become self-employed. They are often required to work at least some evenings and weekends to fit the schedules of their clients.

Chiropractors' job duties include the following:

  • Take x-rays and complete an exam of a patient's back, neck, and joints to diagnose various conditions
  • Adjust the spine and joints of their patients to help align the body and promote overall wellness
  • Teach patients stretches and exercises to help make treatments as effective as possible
  • Use heat/cold application and other related treatments to promote healing and alignment

Related Careers

If you are interested in a more narrow medical focus, you might explore a career as an orthodontist, which is a specialized type of dentist. For those who enjoy the idea of treating more than one area of the body (like chiropractors), becoming a physician assistant is also a career to consider.

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